Summer is upon us, which means public health officials in Dallas are well into their annual battle against West Nile. Mosquitoes throughout the county are being trapped and tested to detect the spread of the disease. Ponds and sizable puddles are being treated with larvacide or stocked with mosquito-eating minnows. The public is being urged to wear long sleeves, liberally apply bug spray and, most of all, drain any standing water.
To mosquitoes, there's no sexier place to conceive and hatch an extremely large brood of bloodsucking parasites than a rank, slimy puddle of the kind that might collect in, say, an empty pool after a good rain or two. That sort of thing is supposed to yield a prompt visit from city code inspectors and, often, an order to comply with city rules against standing water. So serious is the issue that the Texas Legislature gave cities permission to go onto private property to treat standing water with larvacide if a property appears to be abandoned.
But the property in the picture above, taken on June 11, is not abandoned. It belongs, according to county property records, to Dallas City Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill.
A couple of things worth noting here. At no time during the taking of the picture did we set foot on Hill's property, nor did we yield to the temptation to use a drone, which would have been illegal. Just a public alley, a God-given 6-foot-1 frame and tippy-toes.
Also, for the record, we don't typically snoop around City Council members' homes. A regular Unfair Park reader does, however, and he sent along a photo of his own. His trip to Hill's back alley was, apparently, the first leg of an in-progress 14-stop tour of their residences.
We caught up with Hill following yesterday's meeting of the City Council's Transportation and Trinity River Project Committee as she and assistant city manager walked to the City Hall elevator. She squinted at the photo we showed without breaking stride.
A pool service, she said when asked how she treats her pool. Workers come by on a regular basis and treat the pool with a substance that kills off everything in the water.
Like mosquito dunks? we asked.
She shook her head. Nope. She means the stuff they put in the water to make it turn blue.
Yep. That's the one, she confirmed, and exited the elevator.
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Perhaps Hill should consider using a different pool service, as the current company does not appear to have been very effective. Here, top left, is Hill's pool as captured by Google Earth satellites between 2007 and 2013.
You'll see various shades of green, from emerald to something closer to split-pea. What you won't see, with the exception of August 2012, when Dallas was in the midst of its West Nile plague year, is blue.
Whatever chemicals the pool service is putting in, it's not doing the trick.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.